We are a reader-supported education publication. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission to help us keep providing content.
Advanced Placement (AP) courses are a way for high school students to take college classes while still on their secondary school campus. If you’re in high school, you likely have options for AP classes in your school, ranging from math and sciences to history and literature and more. These classes can help you a lot, especially if you’re an upperclassman considering going to college after graduation. Think about these seven benefits of taking AP courses.
1. Challenging Yourself
AP courses are challenging, and educators design them to be this way. They’re your first taste of post-secondary education, and they’re supposed to broaden the horizons of your education. These classes are more than standardized tests and books work.
AP classes often help students with their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. You may encounter assignments helping you with persuasive writing and presentation skills. You may also engage in collaborative work like projects or discussions on how the course relates to real-world situations.
2. Getting Ahead in College Credits
At the end of an AP course, you and your classmates will take an exam to determine if you’ll receive college credit for the class. Depending on the exam and your anticipated college, you’ll need a score of three or higher to pass the exam and earn credit. These credits can go a long way toward giving yourself a head start on your path to a college degree before you step on campus.
3. Saving Money in College
Testing out of AP classes is one of the best ways to save money in college. You’ll still need to take the required classes to graduate, but getting college credit for classes while in high school can reduce the number of courses you have to take in college. Though you have to pay a fee to take AP exams, the long-term savings are significant.
If you earn enough credits, say 12 to 15, you may be able to cut out an entire semester and graduate earlier than initially planned. If you plan your classes carefully, you can cut four years of college down to three or three and a half.
This head start can give you a leg up when looking for a job after graduation. You’ll save thousands of dollars by paying for fewer semesters of tuition, books, housing and more. Taking AP classes now is a great way to set yourself up for success in the future.
4. Boosting Your GPA
A significant benefit of AP classes is how they can benefit your grade point average (GPA). Depending on the institution, your high school may weigh AP classes higher than others on the grading scale. Most schools count an A as four points on the GPA scale, but an AP class could be worth up to five points. If you made a B in another regular class, the AP class can even that out, setting you up with a high GPA.
5. Receiving Scholarships
AP classes can lead to a higher GPA, sometimes a 4.0 or higher. When your GPA is high, that impresses people like college admissions officers. If you’re applying to competitive colleges and universities, AP classes can set you apart from other students. When determining what students get in, an admissions office seeing you took AP classes can be what you need to get ahead.
6. Preparing for College
The benefits of taking AP courses are more than your score on the exam or the boost it gives your GPA. Whether you pass the exam, these classes are your first taste of college and how the classes will be. They’re typically fast-paced because colleges must pack a course’s worth of information into one semester with class two or three days a week.
You’ll regularly find yourself writing essays and doing projects, which will help you transition into your first year of college. Even if you don’t pass the exam, you’ll still have a great base of knowledge heading into the courses on campus, making the classes easier because you’ll have seen the material before.
7. Giving Yourself Flexibility
When you have college credits under your belt from AP classes, you’ll find yourself much more flexible when picking your college courses. You can double major if you have more than one strong interest or add a second minor. You may take a semester of classes and realize you want to change your major and pursue something else.
Getting ahead with AP credits can give you the safety net you need to choose your preferred path and still graduate on time. If you find yourself ahead of schedule, you can use the time to study abroad and take fun electives. Or, you can lighten the load each semester if you don’t plan on graduating early.
AP Courses Help the Long Run
If you’re an upperclassman in high school, you’re probably thinking about college. You may have already taken the ACT or SATs, applied for scholarships, and taken college visits. If you still have a semester or a year left, consider taking AP classes.
The benefits of taking AP courses can help you in the long run for your academic and financial futures. Investing time and money can save you thousands of dollars if you can accumulate college credits and graduate early.